Epic cloud-based Electronic Health Records (EHR) solution is used by a wide range of healthcare institutions from small-size independent practices to multi-specialty hospital groups. 45% of the US population have their EHRs stored within the Epic system and top-20 hospitals use Epic for electronic health record management. If you develop software for a medical institution that uses Epic, you need to integrate it with this EHR/EMR system in order to easily access and process the needed patient information.
In this article, we will discuss what Epic EHR integration is, cases when it is applicable and when it is not, how your app and the development process can benefit from it, and lastly, how to integrate Epic through API.
What Is Interoperability in Healthcare?
On March 9, 2020, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information (ONC) released the Interoperability and Patient Access final rule. Its main purpose is to create a legal basis for ensuring smooth and safe health information exchange and elimination of information blocking. The legislation promotes the use of secure Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) that make healthcare data available to all parties of the healthcare system including patients. This means new opportunities for healthcare software providers and developers to innovate the industry and benefit from using EHR/EMR APIs.
It’s important to understand the difference between Electronic Medical Records (EMR) and Electronic Health Records (EHR) as they differ in the extent of interoperability and the breadth of information. EMRs contain medical information from a particular medical organization or clinician while EHRs contain the patient data collected over a vast period of time from multiple healthcare providers and clinicians. EMRs and EHRs include the following details:
Integrating your app with EHR and EMR has various benefits such as providing doctors with all the needed data about the person’s health history, eliminating the need of performing repeated examinations, and saving time by auto-filling personal and insurance information.
There are a couple of ways to integrate your software with popular EHRs such as Epic. You can use native HL7 and FHIR APIs, utilize the power of native EHR integration modules, or employ middleware. Today we will focus on the first method as interoperability is easier to achieve using the public or open API of EHR solution providers. Without further ado, let’s discuss how to enable the data exchange between EPIC EHR and your software with the EPIC API.
What Is the Epic USCDI API and How Does It Work?
In order to better answer the question, let’s first define each concept.
USCDI stands for the United States Core Data for Interoperability. This data standard regulates data classes and constituent data elements that will make data easily transferable between different healthcare institutions, without information being altered or not readable anymore.
API is an Application Programming Interface. In this case, it works as an intermediary between an app and an EHR/EMR system: an app sends a request, API processes it and sends it to an EHR/EMR system, then the system gives the information needed to API and it delivers it back to the app.
Consequently, Epic USCDI API is a tool that pulls information from the Epic EHR/EMR system in the USCDI format and sends it to the software.
You may also find another name for this API which is Epic USCDI on FHIR. FHIR is Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources and it is a standard of data that helps to facilitate an adequate exchange of data through the web. It makes the application integration way easier. Additionally, Apple announced their support towards FHIR which is a perfect solution for integrating Epic with an iOS application.
Who Needs Epic EHR/EMR Integration?
EHR integration using the Epic USCDI API will let healthcare providers view electronic medical records with information being updated in real time. They do not need to install the Epic app additionally, the information can be pulled inside the healthcare application. With Epic EMR integration users can also do a variety of things to the obtained data: analyze, visualize, or use AI algorithms for more accurate care. However, one can not change data or add anything.
The ease of Epic electronic health records integration and cost-effectiveness have their pitfalls. It’s worth remembering that Epic API enables you to only view the patient data without changing it. So, if your software needs more than merely extracting the data, you need to consider other APIs.
Examples of Cases in Which Epic EHR/EMR Integration Is Needed
Epic EHR/EMR integration would be a great choice for telehealth apps, as such software needs to quickly extract the patient-related data from the EHR for a doctor to review it and make a well-informed treatment decision.
Another case when Epic EHR/EMR integration is a good idea is patient management software. The software needs to pull clinical data such as medication status, laboratory results, and changes in patient condition to track, monitor, and analyze the effectiveness of treatment plans.
Here are some cases in which Epic EHR integration is needed and when you need to consider other options:
Benefits of Epic EMR/EHR Integration
Epic USCDI API has a variety of benefits that can help your healthcare software gain a competitive edge and attract more users, from both patients and medical personnel. They include the following:
Quick Access for the Medical Personnel
Over 200 million EHRs are exchanged each month by healthcare providers who use Epic which has a positive impact on the quality of care provided. Doctors are not always around the computers: sometimes they go to rural areas or need information while they are near the patient. The Epic EHR implementation will allow them to quickly access patient records from anywhere and choose the appropriate treatment based on this information.
Epic USCDI API is a more cost-effective solution that enables healthcare providers to extract data from Epic EHR free of charge. Moreover, Epic API is easier in terms of integration than HL7 or CCDs. With the latter, a developer has to write a lot on their own which influences the costs, effort, and time spent on the software development.
With Epic electronic health record integration, you will be able to easily change the size of your database. It is especially beneficial for such healthcare organizations as intensive care units in which patients are being constantly monitored which results in massive amounts of records.
How to Integrate with Epic EMR/EHR?
The integration process of Epic USCDI API can be divided into 5 main steps:
Check Epic Support
Epic does not work with some versions so check whether the sites you are going to extract data from are supported by this EHR/EMR system. You can ask your account or integration manager to check this.
Create an Account on Uscdi.epic.com
In order to get access to the API key, you have to prove your identity through registration on the uscdi.epic.com site. It is important for data protection.
Review the Data Available
You want to ensure that your healthcare software has access to all the needed data such as allergies, care plan, conditions, diagnosis reports, documentation, history, etc. So check whether the API will have the needed endpoints.
Get the Key and Test Endpoints
You will see the API key on the website that is better to be tested to check whether all the endpoints are working as they should. You can use REST clients to do so.
Integrate It with an App
Include calls to the API in the app code using the endpoints. After everything is implemented and checked, you can enjoy the perks of integrating with Epic EHR/EMR.
To ensure the smooth integration of your healthcare software with Epic EHR it’s better to work with a reliable software development vendor that has expertise in overcoming data interoperability challenges. Langate has a team of over 90 qualified professionals focusing on healthcare solutions. While helping companies integrate with such EHR systems as Epic, we profoundly analyze the business needs to develop a technology architecture that enables consistent and secure data exchange.
Using Epic USCDI API opens room for easier and more cost-effective integrations with the Epic EHR system. Even though it has some limits, this API is a good fit if you develop a provider-facing app and you need to view data only.
Integrating with the Epic USCDI API has the potential to take your healthcare software to a new level as it allows quick access to the patient’s information. If you wish to avoid any pitfalls that may arise along the way and seek professional assistance, feel free to contact Langate. We would ensure the successful Epic EHR integration and stable data exchange.